Science fiction author Octavia Butler died last weekend, following a fall outside her home in the Seattle area. And the science fiction world, and all of the world, have lost another great treasure. She was the first black American woman to rise to prominence as a science fiction writer, and the first science fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Foundation genius grant. She was also widely acknowledged to be one of the finest writers in the field, regardless of race, gender, or another other arbitrary distinction. By the time you read this, there will probably be a number of stories online, but the two I saw first were from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Chicago Tribune.
I never knew her personally. But I feel her loss as a blow to the community I’m a part of—really, two communities, the one of humanity, and the more narrowly defined one of science fiction lovers. It also makes me think once more about the fleeting nature of life on this world, and how it seems a shame to do anything but try to use our time well.